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EXPLAINED: The rules on playing or watching sport in France this summer

Gyms have reopened and elite sports are getting back underway, so whether you want to play, spectate or just watch in a bar, here are the rules on sports in France this summer.

EXPLAINED: The rules on playing or watching sport in France this summer
France fans cheer on their side during the friendly between France and Bulgaria on June 8th. Photo: Franck Fife | AFP the

Fan Zones and bars/cafés

As bars and cafés reopen, watching sport on the big screen with mates and a beer or two is again possible, but with quite a lot of health rules still in place.

France’s Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu has said that Fan Zones – so popular during the 2018 World Cup – could open up again for the Euro2020, but under strict health conditions.

These included: 

  • A maximum customer number of 65 percent of the venue’s normal capacity up to a maximum of 5,000 people;
  • Seated viewing only;
  • Covid-19 health passes required for any fan zone that has more than 1,000 people.

Some towns and cities have plans in place to host Fan Zones from the outset. But a number of cities, including Paris, Lens, Nîmes and Avignon, have decided not to bother opening any Fan Zones until the quarter-final stage of the competition in July – after current Covid-19 public health restrictions are eased further.

Other cities, including Bordeaux and Strasbourg have yet to make their decisions.

But it is still wise to keep an eye on local restrictions. It has been reported that authorities in Rennes have ruled out the possibility of bars positioning large-screen TVs on their terraces to show Euro matches.

On June 30th – health situation permitting – restrictions will ease again and local officials will be able to set their own crowd levels based on the local health situation, while respecting good public health practices and social distancing. Some areas have therefore delayed making decisions until the end of June.

In stadiums

In May, sports stadiums across France welcomed back limited numbers of fans for the first time since October – but with strict rules.

Until at least June 30th, stadiums are open to seated fans, but with a limit of 65 percent capacity up to a maximum of 5,000 supporters – all wearing masks and all those aged 11 or over with a pass sanitaire.

The 11pm curfew also remains in place and applies to sports fans too.

A last-minute exemption for tennis fans watching a particularly tense men’s semi final at the French Open (which apparently came right from the top) was, we are told, a one-off and will not become the rule.

That means fans watching evening matches may be forced to leave before the end to make it home on time.

After June 30th – health situation permitting – the curfew is scrapped and the national upper limit of 5,000 people for outdoor venues should be lifted, but public health requirements will remain.

Amateur sport

Gyms and swimming pools reopened on June 9th, with capacity limits, but what about group sports at an amateur level?

Under current rules, up to 25 adults may practice a non-contact sport together outside. Competitions held outside may involve up to 500 adult amateurs for non-contact sports only.

Standing spectators are generally not allowed – although groups of 10 are permitted in public spaces. As with professional sport, the 65 percent or 5,000 limit on seated spectators is also maintained, with a health pass required for those aged 11 or over.

Assuming the health situation continues to improve adequately, indoor venues hope to be able to return to full capacity from June 30th, when restrictions are next due to ease.

Contact sports could again be allowed for adults, with decisions taken on a local level. 

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COVID-19

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.

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